Piano teachers everywhere are looking for ideas on how to teach beginner and elementary students online. By far, this will be the most challenging demographic to engage with remote teaching.
Tips to get started:
- Familiarize yourself with online teaching in general. Resources are listed at the conclusion of this post.
- Ask if a parent can be present with the child in the remote location (i.e. the child’s home) during the lesson. The parent will better understand your directions and help facilitate.
- Be ready with enriching activities that work well by video chat.
- Each week, know the opening activity for each level of students. If the activity requires your students to have special materials on hand at home, send one (blind-copied) email to all students of that level to simplify your planning, even if you teach them one-on-one.
This blog post is a stub and you can contribute! My vision for this is to gather a library of teaching ideas by age group. If you are a blogger and have already written a blog post about a game, composition activity, ear training exercise, improvisation game, or learning exercise that would adapt well to the online platform, please contact me with a link to your post and I’ll include it here!
Pen pal letters
Ever want to beat the “solitary-piano-lesson” blues? Here’s a social activity for your studio that’s off the beaten path — pen pal letters! This blog post has been updated with ideas on how to adapt pen pal letters to the email format. Get connected! Your students will love this activity!
Student care package
With online lessons several things are missing: adding stickers, placing sticky-notes on pages to make them easy to find and a myriad of other little special touches. You can recreate some of this by delivering care packages to your students that contain useful and fun things they can do at home, like adding their own stickers! Special delivery! If it is not advisable for you to deliver physically, consider emailing virtual stickers, links to games and worksheets.
Beginners up to age 6
Please submit ideas! Let’s collaborate!
Beginners of age 7 to 9
Pentatonic Scale Composition
Songwriting game with coloured balls! Each coloured ball represents a note of the pentatonic scale! This activity encourages chance creativity (drawing balls from a hat) and gives opportunity to teach tonic and dominant.
Beginners of age 10 and up
The Build Your Rhythm composition starter can be done with students age 10 and up (or with Beginner and Elementary students of any age). You can teach this even if you have never composed. In lesson 1 your online student may simply make rhythm cards, then complete more for theory homework between lessons. In follow-up lessons guide your student to do only one step per lesson, first only creating rhythms with cards and then progressing to writing them on paper, then putting one of them to a tune.
- Want to compose music? Steps 1 to 4 help you begin [Printables]
- Composing music? Steps 5 to 8 make your piece longer [Printables]
- 6 steps to Improvising and Composing left hand piano [Printables]
Have a warm-up unit on 2nd and 4th intervals! Teach these two intervals by ear, teach technical warm-ups and compare and contrast them in reading. Then, there’s a bonus challenge of playing a Star Wars tune by ear that uses 2nds and 4ths! There’s a playful “May the 4th be with you” theme to these printable worksheets!
Interval Dash can be adapted to online teaching. Prior to your week of lessons, send a group email (blind copied) to your students of this level. Simply ask your students to have squares of construction paper or coloured markers ready prior to their lesson so you can guide them. Teach only one or two intervals at a time, (and make only one or two squares at a time) to keep the activity within a reasonable timeframe for one lesson.
LH Patterns, Improvising, Composing
Left hand patterns develop coordination, teach patterns that students will find in music they learn and helps them when it comes to creativity, improvising and composing. Teach one pattern every week or two! Right hand can learn them, too!
Resources for Online Teaching
Carly Walton’s Teach Music Online. Carly and Carol Matz have teamed up with a special package to help teachers make the transition to online teaching.
Bradley Sowash Music. Bradley teaches group jazz classes online and has taught piano teachers how to give online lessons. If you’d like to see replays, contact him.
Jennifer Foxx of Music Educator Resources has developed a course entitled Getting over the fear of teaching online and video lessons.
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I appreciate shares, comments and likes. Happy teaching!
Video of the week
Elvis Presley How About a Date? (Elementary, Level 1) is a fun piece that reinforces lots of intervals! from Rock this Town, 11 Elementary piano works, solos and duets. Or, check out the studio-licensed eSheet for Elvis Presley How About a Date!